Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pinellas Hope deserves support, the Times says

Primarily a tent facility, Pinellas Hope also has 10 simple sheds for people with special medical needs and exemplary camp members.

As Catholic Charities broke ground on a transitional apartment building at Pinellas Hope, the St. Petersburg Times called on the county to provide dedicated dollars to make sure the success of the so-called "tent city" for the homeless continues.

This year Pinellas County budgeted $770,000 toward the $2.5 million cost of running Pinellas Hope. But faced with a major budget shortfall because of the recession, county commissioners have not dedicated the same amount of money to the project for 2010. Instead, the commission set aside $1 million for homeless initiatives and said that all providers of homeless services could compete for the money. Seventeen providers have submitted applications totaling more than $1.8 million, including Pinellas Hope's request for $600,000.

Catholic Charities' Frank Murphy warned this week that without the county's contribution, the organization will have to close Pinellas Hope.

The Times notes that St. Petersburg has not wavered in its support of Pinellas Hope. It contributed $250,000 this year and is budgeting the same amount for next year, even though city revenues are down.

"For the county to reduce its funding now would be a step backward and jeopardize the progress that has been made," the Times said.

Read the Times editorial here.


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